White House doesn’t back down from Donald Trump’s wire-tap claims
Monday - 06/03/2017 08:19
A HEATED discussion between US President Donald Trump and his chief strategist Steve Bannon as his daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner watched on has been captured on video.
Mr Bannon can be seen through an Oval Office window waving his arms around and appearing agitated.
Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner and Sean Spicer can also be seen in the background.
News.com.au understands White House chief of staff Reince Priebus and press secretary Sean Spicer were also in the explosive meeting
While it is unclear what the debate was about it comes after CNN reported Mr Trump was “extremely frustrated” with his staff for allowing his address to Congress last week, which was well received, to be overshadowed by the controversy surrounding Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ meetings with the Russian ambassador.
“Nobody has seen him that upset,” an anonymous source told the network.
Tense moments between US President Donald Trump and chief strategist Steve Bannon
Mr Trump’s anger at the repeated “mini disasters” that have distracted his administration boiled over during a heated meeting in the Oval Office on Friday, where he reportedly dressed down White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus.
Today, Mr Trump demanded Congress investigate his claims that Barack Obama ordered a wire-tap on Trump Tower in the lead-up to last year’s election.
The White House has not provided any proof to back up Mr Trump’s extraordinary accusation. In an early morning tweetfest on Saturday, the President claimed his predecessor had ordered surveillance on him. He compared the alleged wire-tapping to Watergate and McCarthyism, and called Mr Obama a “bad (or sick) guy”.
Meanwhile, the director of the FBI, James Comey, has reportedly asked the US Justice Department to publicly shoot down Mr Trump’s accusation that Mr Obama ordered Trump Tower to be wire-tapped.
Mr Comey reportedly said Mr Trump has falsely insinuated that the FBI broke the law. But his request to the Justice Department, made on Saturday according to the New York Times, has not resulted in a public statement.
A spokesman for Mr Obama called Mr Trump’s accusations completely false.
But the White House continued its attack overnight, with Mr Trump’s deputy White House press secretary calling it potentially the “greatest abuse of power” the country has ever seen.
Speaking on ABC’s This Week, Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the President was determined to find out exactly what happened.
“Look, I think he’s going off of information that he’s seen that has led him to believe that this is a very real potential,” she said.
“And if it is, this is the greatest overreach and the greatest abuse of power that I think we have ever seen and a huge attack on democracy itself.
“And the American people have a right to know if this took place.”
Politicians from both parties appealed for Mr Trump to provide proof for the startling claim, however the White House insisted there would be no further comment until “such oversight is conducted” by the congressional intelligence committees.
Mr Trump claims the wire-tapping happened in October at the New York skyscraper where he ran his election campaign.
Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my "wires tapped" in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!
He also tweeted it wouldn’t be the first time the POTUS put out “wild accusations that are untethered to reality” including Mr Trump’s claims of widespread voter fraud and his leadership of the birther movement, which questioned whether Mr Obama was born in the US.
Meanwhile, Mr Obama’s former press secretary Josh Earnest said presidents don’t have authority to unilaterally order the wire-tapping of American citizens.
Mr Earnest accused Mr Trump of levelling the allegations to distract from the attention being given to campaign-season contacts by Trump aides with a Russian official, including campaign adviser Jeff Sessions, before he resigned from the Senate to become attorney general.
Mr Obama’s spokesman Kevin Lewis said a “cardinal rule” of the Obama administration was that no White House official ever interfered in Justice Department investigations, which are supposed to be conducted free of political influence.
Mr Lewis said neither Obama nor any White House official had ever ordered surveillance on any US citizen.
“Any suggestion otherwise is simply false,” he said.